New pair of shoes, please

by Yule Heibel on March 16, 2005

On the subject of “metablogging” and disfunction (as manifested in weblogging), this post, Steve Levy, Dave Sifry, and NZ Bear: You are Hurting Us, by Shelley Powers aka Burningbird, is simply the most important and pithy I’ve read so far. Period. It’s a good idea to read it, too, in relation to her Guys Don’t Link post, which is so far the best reply I’ve seen to Larry Summers’s grossness.

The coy smiley face notwithstanding, Dave Winer, writing around the same time and issue, pretty much proved that he must have the biggest dinklog tucked away in that voluminous blog of his, a veritable virtual Fount of Viagra that never lets up:

I wish women would pick up some of the load and write about new stuff that interests Scripting News readers. I feel victimized by having to always point to men. We do all the work and they do all the complaining. Women, how about doing your fair share, i.e. half, of the work? What a trip. We’re doing most of the work and they’ve got us feeling guilty. Heh. What else is new? [why more?]

So: he adds later that he was kidding. But if you want proof that he lives in la-la-land, note also that Winer believes that the US is unequivocally a boot-strap society, where social differences can be overcome by doing the right thing and telling the right stories: I might guess at his national heritage, but then in the US, that’s fairly pointless. (from here)

Excuse me, but that’s just a load of crap. I’ve lived in several countries so far, and truly can attest that, even though it’s a pretty cool place in most regards, the US is also an extremely status-conscious society, with deep codes about belonging and not belonging. Before moving to the US, I was never, ever asked what my father did for a living (contractor); I was never asked where I went to school (with the expectation that the name of the school would give away the postal or zip code and hence the real estate status of the area, or else that it would indicate an expensive prep school, or a university with clout, all of which would say something about my parents’ status), nor was I asked where my parents went to school (the School of Hard Knocks and the Kindergarten of Having the Shit Kicked Out of You, to quote Black Adder). Yet strangely, in the supposedly oh-so-egalitarian and democratic US, these questions were always either lurking or asked outright: never before was I asked so often what my parents did or where I went to school. Ok, maybe it made a difference that my home in the US was New England, in Massachusetts, where if you didn’t arrive in the 1700s you were considered an outsider, and that I went to grad school at Harvard where supreme shame consisted of having gone to a state school for undergraduate work. But still. The snoot-factor in many parts of the US is enormous, and there are real, tangible markers and hurdles — and hello??!, I’m a white (albeit “foreign”) female! I can only imagine what it’s like for those who aren’t in that category of at least looking “normal” (i.e., white) …just as I can only imagine what it’s like when you have that extra double-plus-good of being not just white (“normal”), but being male (“especially normal”), too. It kind of disgusts me that a supposedly intelligent person would buy into the bootstrap myth so unequivocally …or shall we say: buy into it when it suits his purposes, for Winer is always ready to complain about not gettng his fair share of recognition when he feels slighted. Is he just provincial/parochial, with no experience of other societies, or is there something terribly manipulative and blind about those views? At any rate, these views hurt people who are put down by the bootstrap myth, because the myth is what keeps the manic optimism about the system flowing, even as it marginalises as disfunctional outsiders those who dare to question it.


maria March 17, 2005 at 11:38 am

The bootstrap myth is also an excellent marketing tool and keeps more than itself going. I doubt that those who profit from it the most believe in it; it’s the true believers who pay for it, literally. It’s their investment that keeps the others (the pre-1700s group or other vesrions of it)floating on their yachts at a safe distance from the rabble on the beach clamoring to get into their sorry little new rubber dinghy as they head out to brave the waves on the way to the seas of prosperity.

Shelley March 18, 2005 at 12:03 am

I had a feeling Mr. Winer received a great deal of pushback for that statement.

What was interesting about the recent discussions is how the requirements have changed to ‘make it’ in this environment. It used to be, all we had to do was write well. Not, we have to ‘network’, which means suck up to the top.

Uh, I think that’s what Dave meant by ‘bootstrapping’. It’s just that in my town, we called it ‘bootlicking’.

Yule Heibel March 18, 2005 at 1:39 am

Ah, I think the whole game is hopelessly rigged. Take, for example, all this talk of Technorati and links, for eg.: I’ve often seen that my blog isn’t shown as having updated on Technorati, even though it has, and that who- or what-ever I linked to didn’t get “registered”as having been linked to. So, I wonder: what’s all this brouhaha about how the technology (eg., Technorati keeping track of who or what is linking to which) is going to keep us in touch or whatever, when it fails constantly at that level?

You know what I mean? There’s a fundamental problem with any space that claims to be social, which, however, relies on technology to keep it humming. At present (10:33 pm PST), Tehcnorati claims I updated 2+ days ago, yet I updated one day and two days and more ago. Entries from after March 11 aren’t captured by their snapshot, nor are any links I may have made to any other people.

It’s a vanity issue in one sense, and one doesn’t want to complain, although once I did. Technorati kept insisting I hadn’t updated in 30 or so days, even though I had been updating constantly during this period. I complained because I linked to the animation “Epic,” which Dean Landsman sent around (this was a couple of months ago), and it annoyed me that Epic wasn’t getting the links. After I emailed whoever it is over there, I suddenly showed up as being in existence again, but now I’m once more deleted.

And it keeps happening, which makes me wonder if anyone seriously thinks I’m going to keep writing to Technorati to say, “whaa, you haven’t shown me as having updated”? I don’t think so. Hence: screw them, and screw the idea that the technology is so freakin’ perfect that it can actually keep track. And likewise, screw the freakin’ idea that it’s all about merit, because it certainly isn’t.

It all still boils down to people, and honestly, there are still just a handful of you out there I will trust with anything that actually involves my care. Beyond that, I don’t care, and sadly, that not-caring characterises much of what passes for social what’s-it-ism. Sorry to sound like such a sour puss, but the last few days have left me feeling in a mean mood.

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